Longtime WWE announcer ‘Mean” Gene Okerlund has passed away at the age of 76 years old. Okerlund, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, was an icon in the professional wrestling business for decades. Okerlund began his career with the AWA in 1970 and in 1985 he sang the national anthem prior to WrestleMania I, just a year after joining WWE.
WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away at age 76. https://t.co/DyPiEiVLoV
— WWE (@WWE) January 2, 2019
A voice and sound track to an entire era of our industry. He was the star of some of @WWE’s most memorable segments. “Mean Gene” was beloved by all who got to work with him. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. https://t.co/9ddj6372eE
— Triple H (@TripleH) January 2, 2019
Okerlund made himself a household name in the WWE, where he became a staple in the industry by conducting interviews with the biggest names in sports-entertainment such as Hulk Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, Andre The Giant and others. He earned his “Mean Gene” nickname thanks to fellow Minnesotan, Jesse “The Body” Ventura.
Okerlund left for WCW in 1993 and remained with the company throughout the Monday Night Wars era, and eventually returned to WWE in 2001. He would go on to make sporadic appearances on weekly WWE programming, and hosted a number of special shows and series, many of which can be seen on the WWE Network. Last January, Okerlund returned to Monday Night Raw for the 25th anniversary special and interviewed AJ Styles.
Okerlund made listening to wrestlers pitch their mic work cool and enjoyable. Today, the entire professional wrestling industry owes a lot of gratitude to Okerlund, as he allowed the talent to show off personality you wouldn’t get in the ring.